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tv   The Last Word  MSNBC  January 30, 2012 10:00pm-11:00pm PST

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my friend paul ryecoff challenged the mayors of new yo and boston, are you really okay with your football team getting a parade and not your iraq vets? for now, today's st. louis, missouri, pulling off its welcome home the heroes parade, they did it first in the country the republican clown car picked up one more clown this weekend. the chairman of the party. >> i called him captain schettino. >> what did you call president obama? >> we're going to call him schettino. >> add disgraced ship's captain to that catalog of epitaphs. >> captain coward, captain
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schettino. >> the captain of that cruise ship. >> it's a fair analogy. >> that ship captain a facing charges. >> schettino under house arrest. >> the more interested in campaigning than doing his job as president. >> an analogy that michael steele deems inappropriate. >> i think it's an unfortunate analogy. >> michael steele was the most gaffe-prone rnc chairman in history. >> it was terrible, people died. >> jay carney called priebus, quote, desperate for attention. >> there's justice coming in this drama. >> democrats and the obama campaign armed with new ammo. >> i know the speaker is not real happy. >> romney will pay for what he did to newt here in florida. >> the speaker's been attacking me all over the state. >> he is for all practical purposes a liberal. i am a conservative.
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>> i wish i could claim that i'm a hispanic. >> so if for no other reason rage against the machine, vote for newt, annoy a liberal, vote newt. >> i hereby officially and enthusiastically endorse newt gingrich. >> one day he's isaac newton. the next day, he's fig newton. >> the state of our union is ridiculous. >> the republican party continues to do everything it possibly can to reelect president obama. the republican candidates for president have been savaging each other for months now. all of the republican candidates now have disapproval ratings that are higher than their approval ratings according to the latest "new york times" poll. the relentless negative advertising against mitt romney and newt gingrich is doing no harm to the president, while
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guaranteeing that the republicans will be pretending to be excited about a horribly damaged nominee at their convention in august. as if that wasn't helpful enough to the president, the chairman of the republican party said this yesterday -- >> we're going to talk about our own little captain schettino which is president obama who's abandoning the ship here in the united states and is more interested in campaigning than doing his job as president. >> what did you just call president obama? >> i called him captain schettino, you know, the captain that fled the ship in italy. that's our own president who's fleeing the american people and not doing his job and running around the country and campaigning. >> reince priebus got his job because republicans grew weary of michael steele saying things that they thought he shouldn't
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say. and now here is priebus comparing the president to a cowardly ship's captain who left his passengers to drown and is now charged with manslaughter. this is the kind of thing that could only appeal to people who already deeply hate the president and would never vote for him. it's wasted on people when you're trying to persuade them to vote republican. it doesn't appeal to moderates and independents and democrats. and without some of those votes from some of those peoples, a republican cannot possibly win the white house. there are people going to bed in several states in this country tonight who almost lost their lives on that italian ship. and there are americans trying to go to sleep in this country tonight who are still in the throes of grief at the loss of loved ones on that ship.
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the chair of the democratic party had to remind priebus of that. >> to make light of a tragedy and to compare the president with someone who has been charged with manslaughter is outrageously disrespectful to the families who lost their loved ones and to the family of loved ones who are still missing. it was an incindiary comment. >> comparing him to a reckless killer of innocence and, yes, mr. priebus should have immediately apologized as debby wasserman, schultz insisted he do. instead, he went on fox news and said this --
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>> an analogy was made and it was an analogy of leadership that in a time of crisis, in a time of crisis, this president is leaving the white house and campaigning nonstop all the time. i think it's pretty clear. but if people out there, especially on the democratic side, want to try to make hay of it, they're going to be able to do that. the reality is, it's a fair analogy. >> joining me now from miami, msnbc political analyst and national affairs editor for "new york magazine" john heilemann and from washington, former dnc communications director karen finney. thank you both for joining me tonight. john, i want to start with you as the nonpartisan judge of this priebus moment. the guy's job is to get independents to go republican, to get reagan democrat, as they used to be called, to vote
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republican. he's going to need them for republicans to win the white house. and he says something hateful and stupid and not funny and disrespectful to both the president and to the victims of this oceanliner disaster. and he thinks that that is the way to appeal to the middle. in your study of the american electorate, john, call it fairly now, is that the way to appeal to the middle? >> lawrence, i'd go further than that -- further than just saying no. i'd say it's just plainly dopey. and it's dopey and ineffective and foolish. and it's foolish on a bunch of different levels. not only does it not appeal to the middle. think about the argument he was making in the follow-up today on fox news where he says, it's an apt analogy in terms of leadership, the president's leaving the white house too often to campaign. at its core, it's a process argument.
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he's trying to say, the president should lose some points because he's out campaigning too much. how many american voters care about that kind of process argument, whether they're centrist voters, base voters, any kind of voter. it's a terrible mishandling. on top of the fact that it doesn't work with independents, it also inflames the president's base. there's nothing that david plouffe and david axelrod and the white house worry about more than the democratic base deciding to stay home in november. this just inflames them in a way that is just going to motivate them to turn out, out of anger and ire directed at a republican party that they see as being disrespectful and inflammatory toward the president. >> and there's an insult to voter intelligence in here. his complaint is that the president is out campaigning for reelection, which every incumbent president has done. they go out campaigning for reelection. >> sure, of course.
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but i think there's two parts to this. on the one part, it is true that it was just stupid because it does galvanize the president's base. it makes us remember why we're in this thing. it also as a chairman of the party who is supposed to grow the base of the party and as you say, you cannot win a national election in the united states of america without some portion of the african-american vote, the latino vote, independents, conservative democrats. and that kind of ignorance doesn't get you there. but there is another piece to this that supporters feel that i think is really important that we not let slip by because it can easily just dispelled as how disrespectful it was. but the level of disrespect they have continually shown this president. these guys have been so focused on undermining the president of the united states of america that they are undermining the presidency of the united states of america. they're so focused on sinking barack obama, that they are sinking our economy. you don't wag your finger in the
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face of the president of the united states. you don't yell out during the state of the union. you don't do the kinds of things we have seen from day one from the republican party to this president. it's not just insulting. it is undermining him as the president. it's gone on far too long. >> i want to take a look at an ad that mitt romney is running in florida. the reason i want to take a look at this tonight, the case i'm presenting tonight is that everything, truly everything that the republicans are doing is helpful to president obama's reelection. let's take a look at this romney ad as a case in point. let's watch this. >> from debates, you'd think newt gingrich was ronald reagan's vice president. >> i worked with president reagan. >> gingrich exaggerate, dropping reagan's name 50 times. but in his diaries, reagan mentioned gingrich only once criticizing him saying newt's
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ideas would, quote, cripple our defense program. on leadership and character, gingrich is no ronald reagan. >> john, that's from the romney super pac attacking gingrich. now, here's the romney super pac and the romney campaign in florida. with a big lead over gingrich and they're not campaigning against president obama. here's an opportunity for them to soften up florida voters against president obama and they're campaigning against newt gingrich. that's exactly what the president needs them to do, isn't it? >> yes. and what they're really trying to do is run up the score here. there's no one who doubt that is mitt romney is going to win and win a decisive victory here in florida. they're really trying to flex their muscles and drive the margin up as high as possible to try to demoralize gingrich and keep him from fighting on further. but you're right. this is a huge important swing state.
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mitt romney had done well through most of 2011 to stay focused largely on president obama. now at this moment, when he basically has this state locked up, he could be making arguments against the president but instead he's basically stamping on the dead corpse of newt gingrich rather than trying to pivot towards where he needs to pivot to, which is the general election. >> and the front-runner romney campaign is demoralizing rush limbaugh. listen to what rush had to say about the romney campaign today. >> if you are deciding that you like romney's toughness the way he's taking out newt, i have a thing for you. he isn't going to do that against obama. do you think the republican party has the guts to do that against obama? you think so? you think so? it's interesting you think so. have you seen any evidence -- no, you haven't. have you seen any evidence of any republican going after obama the way the republicans are going after each other? you haven't.
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in fact, when romneys -- oh, gosh, you know, i just think he's in over his head. has he said something as innocuous as that about newt? >> karen finney, you know things are going well for the democrats when the republican campaign has rush limbaugh so flummoxed. >> that's true. but here's the other part of the strategy. i think -- i hate to say this -- i sort of agree with rush in that in a general election, i would imagine what you'll see, the tone from mitt romney towards president obama will be like the strategy he initially had with newt where he'll say one thing but leave it to others to really do the dirty work. i think that's going to be the super pacs. i think the level of racist, ugly, hateful, nasty ads that we're going to see from those super pacs is going to make what reince priebus said look like small potatoes. i think to your point, it will absolutely further galvanize the base for the president.
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>> karen finney, thank you very much for joining me tonight. and john heilemann, stick with us. upcoming, a look ahead at what happens in november if mitt romney is running against president obama. and later, newt gingrich says the best thing he could do for the republican party is stay in the race until the convention, which is, of course, also the very best thing he could do for the democratic party. [ degeneres ] what's more beautiful than a covergirl? two covergirls. that's right. get two miracles in one product. covergirl makeup... and olay advanced hydrating serum. it's new tone rehab 2-in-1 foundation. one pump... covers spots, lines... and wrinkles. and one bottle helps improve skin tone over time. that's what i was supposed to say now. well, no one can understand you. ♪ new tone rehab 2-in-1 foundation from [ babbling ] ...covergirl. that's what i'm talking about. see? what did you just say? i'm looking for some "beeza-beeza-vuza-vuza."
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which still makes for a pretty enchanted tale. ♪ la la la [ man ] whoops, forgot one... [ male announcer ] sustainable solutions. fedex. solutions that matter. if you say to someone who maybe voted for obama in 2008 and is on the fence now, why he deserves the second term. >> he's led the country through a very difficult time. we have a long way to go. we're in a much difference place than we were when he got there. he has the vision to build an economy in which hard work pays off, responsibility is rewarded, everybody place by the same rules and everybody gets a fair shake.
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>> of course you could also say, don't let the people who hate the president win, don't let the racists win, don't let the protecters of billionaires win, don't let the "bomb iran tonight warmongers" win. with the political world focused with the political world focused on who's going to win florida tomorrow, let's think about the much more important question of "who's going to win florida in november?" president obama won florida in 2008 with 51% of the vote. a new nbc news/marist poll of florida voters shows them evenly split with 46% approving and 46% disapproving. that's not normally a good sign for an incumbent president. but when matched in a one-on-one against republican mitt romney, president obama runs comfortably
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ahead right now with 49% to romney's 41%. joining me now to discuss who has the best chance at florida's 29 electoral votes in november, john heilemann and adam smith with "the tampa bay times." adam, to what's happening in florida, as it stands today with that 49% to 41% obama lead and florida with still a very high unemployment rate, 9.9%, what does the president have to do to hold onto that kind of lead going into november? >> well, we had a poll out with "the miami herald" that showed romney up a few points. this is going to be a tough race. obama can win the electoral votes. but it's not going to be easy. >> john, to go back to what we were talking about before, how the republican primary campaign is not helping whoever the
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republican nominee is in florida, this is that moment where the romney campaign could start to get a much more solid footing for november. but they're just not going to get that opportunity this time around. >> yeah, i think -- they've unfortunately ended up with a challenge in newt gingrich here that ended up being much stiffer than they expected. the romney campaign had planned for a long time on the possibility of losing south carolina and having to use florida as a firewall. but the gingrich thing put them in a position where they really had to win here. i think they are concerned about the possibility that gingrich will go on and try to fight them for months and months into the future which is why i think they're trying to be as decisive or as brutal as possible in beating him here. but it does hurt them because romney has certain problems. i think it's going to be very close in florida, as adam said. i think the president is going to have a hard time winning
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here. i think romney is also going to have a hard time winning here. it would be very good for romney to be able to start trying to fix his problem particularly with hispanic voters and latino voters here. but he doesn't have that opportunity right now as he's trying to trounce gingrich. >> there are polls showing that he will do well with republican latino voters tomorrow night. but in the nbc poll statewide, among latinos, obama leads romney now 58% to 38%. and also among independents, obama leads romney 56% to 36%. among voters 45 and under, obama leads romney 57% to 35%. that's 45 and under, 57% to 35%. a huge lead for president obama. adam smith, those are some very important demographics in which the president has some real power.
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>> yeah, and you're going to see the obama campaign put a lot of emphasis particularly along the i-4 corridor in central florida on largely puerto rican democratic-leaning hispanics who maybe are not frequent voters. but that's going to be a big effort to try to drive up that turnout. >> john heilemann, the big subject that has not been discussed at the volume level certainly that democrats are going to want it discussed in florida are social security and medicare, what congressional republicans have tried to do to medicare through the paul ryan plan, something that mitt romney has said he supports. i want to show some tape of mitt romney just tonight in florida talking about medicare. let's listen to that. >> i understand a few of you here are on medicare, is that true? that being the case, i hope you tell your friends who always fear that republicans somehow might go after medicare, you can tell them a couple of things, one, we will never go after medicare or social security. we'll protect those programs but
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also, you make sure and tell them this -- there's only one president in history that's cut medicare $500 billion and that's barack obama. and guess what he did it for? he did it to pay for obamacare. so if i'm president, i will protect medicare and social security for those that are currently retired or near retirement and i'll make sure we keep those programs solvent for the next generations coming along. we'll protect america's seniors with programs designed to keep them well and safe. >> john heilemann, the republican debates in florida did not really get into social security or medicare but the obama campaign, when it goes to florida, might just be talking about nothing else. >> i think that's right, lawrence. mitt romney has had a problem, as we know, for the entirety of this campaign with the conservative base. one of the ways in which he's tried to remedy that problem was by coming down in favor of paul ryan's plan. and paul ryan's plan is one of
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the -- what the president's people think is one of his biggest weapons, one of the biggest clubs in his bag that they are going to try to use to beat mitt romney on the issues of social security, entitlement reforms and medicare. also when you heard romney make that argument, it's inconsistent with the paul ryan plan but it leads him into a discussion of health care reform. i don't see how a discussion of health care reform is a discussion he's going to be able to win versus president obama given everything we know about the similarities between obamacare and romneycare. >> we'll be hearing about those vouchers in the paul ryan plan. john heilemann and adam smith, thank you both very much for joining me tonight. >> thank you, lawrence. coming up, newt gingrich promises to drag out the republican nomination process as long as he possibly can. but will democrats really get that lucky?
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newt is not that great about keeping promises. and i'm not going to do any ex-wife jokes. and tonight, the senate actually voted on something the president asked for in his state of the union address. he asked for it last week. they voted tonight. the result was shocking, a huge, huge bipartisan vote in favor of what the president asked for. and in tonight's "rewrite," herman cain and mitt romney each rewrite themselves. [ male announcer ] how can power consumption in china, impact wool exports from new zealand, textile production in spain, and the use of medical technology in the u.s.? at t. rowe price, we understand the connections of a complex, global economy. it's just one reason over 75% of our mutual funds beat their 10-year lipper average. t. rowe price. invest with confidence. request a prospectus or summary prospectus with investment information, risks, fees and expenses to read and consider carefully before investing.
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newt gingrich knows that the polls don't look good for him tomorrow night in florida. but he promises to stay until the republican convention, which is the best thing he could possibly do for president obama's reelection. there's a story out tonight that newt might drop out sooner than that. but that's going to be refuted by one of his spokesman coming up. that's next. and in the "rewrite" tonight, mitt romney says he wishes he could claim he is hispanic. he actually said that. what made him say that? that's in tonight's chapter of stuff mitt romney doesn't want you to know. and a shocking vote tonight in the united states senate. a huge bipartisan vote in favor of something president obama asked for in last week's state of the union address. how did that happen?
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♪ let's go ♪ ♪ cruise like a norwegian ♪ the two trains and a bus rider. the "i'll sleep when it's done" academic. for 80 years, we've been inspired by you. and we've been honored to walk with you to help you get where you want to be. ♪ because your moment is now. let nothing stand in your way. learn more at keller.edu. i think romney has a very real challenge in trying to get a majority at the convention. just to repeat something i said the other day, we will go all the way to the convention.
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i believe the republican party will not nominate a pro-abortion, pro-gun control, pro-tax increase moderate from massachusetts. >> that was newt gingrich promising to drag out the republican nomination process all the way to the party's convention in august. can president obama possibly get that lucky? joining me now from florida is georgia congressman jack kingston who has endorsed newt gingrich and here in new york, salon.com's political columnist, steve franaki. jack, first of all to you, i know you're from georgia and i know there's a lot of pressure when your georgia guy is running. but how does it feel to be one of the lone republican members of congress endorsing former speaker gingrich? >> lawrence, i feel good about it. i did serve with him when we were in the minority and then when we won the majority and he became speaker.
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we did, working with president clinton, reform health care and balance the budget. we did a lot of good things. it wasn't picture-perfect, neither was the style of bill clinton's at the time. but things got done and what i think voters want right now is somebody who will get it done. i feel good about endorsing newt. he's an activist. he's a very smart guy. and so let's see what happens. i think that the florida situation was he didn't have the money equity until south carolina. and unfortunately romney's been down there for a long time. he spent something like $17 million. and newt spent about $4 million. that's a big gap in a short period of time. but i think he's going to do a lot better than people think. >> i'm going to take your word for it that this is a voluntary act and it's not that newt has some deep, dark georgia secret about you that he's forcing you into this. >> he's a good guy. >> i have to get something
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important from you, jack, before we move on. cnn tonight, a little while ago ran what they called a breaking news story, they had a breaking news banner up that said, gingrich campaign strongly suggesting it plans to cede two states. gingrich's spokesman says our capacity to tell the truth about romney's record is limbless. we will challenge mitt romney and his lies in every context. democron earry word you say right now. please promise democrat that newt gingrich is going to stay in the race in every state all the way to the convention. >> well, i have to say this to my democrat friends -- be careful of what you wish for because, remember, the more newt is in the public eye -- his critics, there may be more critics out there. i don't know. it seems like they've already
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shown their cards, so to speak. what more can be thrown at him? i don't know. but what we're seeing is he's a tough guy and he has good responses and he has a great grasp of all the issues. down here in florida, he can talk about space station and space exploration with a long-term record about it. he can talk about cuba. he can talk about israel. he can talk about medicare. he was the only speaker of the house that reformed medicare. and the incumbent president, as you know, cut medicare $500 million. i think newt is a guy who with each and every state can get down to the weeds of some of their local hot buttons. and unfortunately i think that the romney folks got here first with big money. and newt's coming from behind here. but i think he's going to do better than what people think. >> steve, sarah palin is defending newt gingrich. on her facebook page, she has said, what we saw with this ridiculous opposition dump on newt was nothing short of a
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stalinesque rewriting of history. if i read that correctly, sarah palin is accusing mitt romney of being stalinesque. can this get any better for democrats? i don't think it can. stalinesque for mitt romney towards newt gingrich. >> and the language she's using underscores the nightmare scenario. there are three factors that have to worry republicans and buoy the hopes of democrats a lib. you look at where gingrich is in his political life. he's 68 years old. this is not a guy who a lot of the usual calculations of a presidential race apply to. he's not looking for next time or his long-term future in the party. this is the last show for him. the idea of leaving now to preserve options for the future, not necessarily on the table with gingrich. the second thing, this is unusually personal to him. this race is becoming unusually personal. you have the example on the democratic side of the clinton/obama race of 2008 that
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went all the way to june. that wasn't nearly as personal as what we're seeing in this race. the third factor is, i can't see a scenario where gingrich doesn't at any time before super tuesday folds his tent before then. there aren't enough contest between now and then. not nearly enough delegates will be chosen between now and then. and super tuesday are going to bring a lot of the southern states, the old confederacy states where there's hints in the poll that is romney is vulnerable there, i can't see that he's going to pull out anytime before super tuesday. that means sarah palin talking about stalinesque between now and super tuesday at least. >> and jack kingston, i wanted to show the latest gingrich super pac ad that just bombs mitt romney and just really whacks him, which is just a joy for democrats to watch. but, jack, this is just you and me talking, okay?
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i'll turn off the sound so america can't hear your answer to this one. what about the gingrich empire, that $3 million that he makes, which is largely washington dependent income? can't come people in washington kind of get to newt and say, hey, newt, all your avenues to income after this campaign will dry up if you don't stop bombing romney on his way to this nomination? >> well, i don't think that's going to be a problem. this is what my view is -- whatever romney and newt throw at each other now, it's nothing compared to what's going to hit one of them come the nomination. and so, to me, i think that they're making each other better candidates. and you know, it's interesting, for your listeners, as long as newt stays in there, romney looks more moderate, therefore more appealing to the swing voters. i think there's an advantage. remember, it's just the first of february.
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>> quick, steve, romney is -- newt continues to pull romney to the right. so this making romney look moderate thing, i don't think that's -- >> i don't think the polling bears that out. republicans are probably on their way to finding out what democrats learned with ted kennedy and jimmy carter in 1980. >> congressman jack kingston, thank you for joining us. come back any time to push the candidacy of newt gingrich on this show. and steve, thank you for joining me tonight. next, in "the rewrite," mitt romney likes to tell a sanitized story about his family coming to america. the trouble is, he tells less than half the story because his actually came to america twice. his family gave up living in this country when they decided they just could not abide by the laws of the united states of america. that's next. an ybod
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so what exactly are we supposed to do with this moon base? >> when we have 13,000 americans living on the moon, they can petition to become a state. >> 13,000, that's not a state. that's like a condo development! you want to be a condo developer on the moon, you want to be like a lunar trump. and may i say this -- like earth trump, you will not be president. when i grow up,
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i want to fix up old houses. ♪ [ woman ] when i grow up, i want to take him on his first flight. i want to run a marathon. i'm going to own my own restaurant. when i grow up, i'm going to start a band. [ female announcer ] at aarp we believe you're never done growing. thanks, mom. i just want to get my car back.
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[ female announcer ] discover what's next in your life. get this free travel bag when you join at aarp.org/jointoday. in tonight's "rewrite," herman cain and mitt romney rewrite themselves. first, herman cain -- >> here is my unconventional endorsement, not a candidate seeking the nomination, not someone that's not running. my unconventional endorsement is the people. we the people of this nation are still in charge. that's who i'm endorsing. >> that was herman cain endorsing you on january 19th. how did that feel? then herman cain woke up on january 20th realizing how stupid that was and more importantly that it left us with no reason to aim a television camera at him again ever.
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and here's how he dealt with both of those problems. >> i hereby officially and enthusiastically endorse newt gingrich for president of the united states. >> newt made the mistake today of not only accepting herman cain's endorsement but actually appearing on the same stage with him. thereby putting the targets of all of the adultery accusations in the republican presidential primary campaign side by side on the eve of the vote in florida. and mitt romney tried to rewrite himself today in a much more important way. he tried to rewrite who he is. i don't mean rewrite himself from liberal to conservative. he's already done that. this is something much more basic. romney tried to rewrite his whiteness. he tried to rewrite his ethnicity.
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romney is not just white. he's whiter than white. so the only direction he could go was something that required a little less sunscreen. >> you know, i wish i could claim that i'm hispanic. >> self-loathing republicans are usually not that open. it took the grand inquisitors of fox and friends to show us that side of mitt romney. >> the other night when i saw you at one of the debates in florida, you mentioned for the first time in my memory that your father was -- where you were talking about that anti-immigrant allegation by newt gingrich. you were talking about how your father was born in mexico. that's the first time i'd heard you say that. is that helping you with the latino community in florida? >> you know, i wish i could claim that i'm hispanic. that would help me in the latino community here in florida and around the country. but my dad was born of american parents living in mexico. so he was anglo at the time and
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yet i'm very proud of the fact that he came to this country at a critical time, was helped to get on his feet by folks in this country. he and his dad went around america, started a construction business, ultimately my dad went off and ran a car company. it's an amazing land, of course. people coming here from all over the world seeking opportunity. >> yeah, it really is an amazing land. and those people who come from all over the world seeking opportunity rarely turn against this country and decide to leave, decide to go to another country that they like better. but that is exactly what the romneys did. after joining the mormon church, the romneys came from england in 1841. mitt romney's great grat miles park romney, so hated the laws of the united states of america that he moved his family and his four wives to mexico in 1885.
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a few years later in mexico, he brought a fifth wife into the family. mitt romney's great grandfather remained a polygamist long after it was declared illegal in the utah territory by federal law in 1862 and even after the mormon church turned against polygamy. but the mormon church was still torn about the issue of polygamy after they officially turned against it and brigham young actually sent miles park romney to mexico in order to build a polygamist colony there populated by american mormans. the romney settlement is still there in mexico. nbc's mike taibbi reported on the romneys still living there. mitt romney's family returned back to the united states in 1912 simply because they feared the mexican revolution more than they feared living under the
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laws of the united states which denied them their freedom to marry as many women as the founder of their religion did, 48. mitt romney doesn't like to tell the story of how many times his family came to the united states and how many times his family left the united states in its attempt to preserve the practice of polygamy. he prefers to pretend his family came to the united states just once from mexico. but the truth is profoundly weirder than that. and it is a truth that romney speech audiences and fox and friends viewers will never know. ♪
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♪ you and me and the big old tree ♪ ♪ side by side, one, two, three ♪ ♪ count the birds in the big old tree ♪ ♪ la la la [ male announcer ] the inspiring story of how a shipping giant can befriend a forest may seem like the stuff of fairy tales. ♪ ♪ you and me and the big old tree side by side ♪ but if you take away the faces on the trees... take away the pixie dust. take away the singing animals, and the charming outfits.
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take away the sprites, and the storybook narrator... [ man ] you're left with more electric trucks. more recycled shipping materials... and a growing number of lower emissions planes... which still makes for a pretty enchanted tale. ♪ la la la whoops, forgot one... [ male announcer ] sustainable solutions. fedex. solutions that matter.
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send me a bill that bans insider trading by members of congress. i will sign it tomorrow. >> we have breaking news tonight from the united states senate. shocking news, really. last week, the president asked congress for a bill that bans insider trading by members of congress and their staffs. and tonight with shocking speed, the senate reached the 60-vote threshold to proceed to floor debate on the bill, which virtually guarantees passage of some version of that bill. the vote count tonight in the senate was something we have not seen on anything, on any bill that is on the obama wish list.
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it was well above the 60 vote threshold needed. the final vote was 93-2 with only two republican senators opposing action on the bill. joining me now, democratic senator jeff merkley who cast one of the 93 votes to pass the bill. thanks for joining me. >> great to be with you. >> senator, the stock act, as it's stocked, it's the stop trading on congressional knowledge act, count me as shocked there were over 90 votes in the senate for this. if you got 62 or 63, i would say, okay, i see why they couldn't lay down in front of this and try to stop it. but i'm stunned by the 90. how did this happen? >> it just defies common sense and proprietary that there should be one set of rules for public and a different set of rules for congress and that insider trading should be allows for members of congress when they have access to so much information.
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it's outrageous that it's been allowed for so long. >> pardon me for being surprised that something making sense was enough to get over 90 votes in the senate these days. i had a discussion with elizabeth warren on this show about this very bill and i want to play you a tape of that and see if i can get you to go along with what i convinced her of. let's listen to this. i have to tell you, having worked in the senate and seen a lot of the financial disclosure forms, i would tweak it beyond that. i would say, if you're in the congress, while you're in the congress, you simply cannot own stocks. why own stocks? there are plenty of other things to do with your wealth if you have wealth when you go into the congress. >> you know, i'm with you on this. either don't own it or put it in a blind trust where someone else manages it and you literally can't see what's in there. i realize there are some wealthy individuals who have a lot of stock portfolios. but you're exactly right.
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i don't understand how people can be out there in the house, in the senate. they get inside information and they're making critical decisions. >> senator merkley, the new bill doesn't prevent ownership of stock. it simply says you can't trade the stocks based on information you're gaining through the legislative process. >> yes. >> what about just banning the ownership of stocks by members of congress? >> absolutely. the insider trading is very, very difficult to demonstrate. and we have rules in many other settings, in the executive branch, for the staff of our committee that is say, conflict of interest is unacceptable. it should not be the case that i'm thinking about an energy bill or an amendment on an energy bill and knowing i also have stock in a company that might be affected. that's a conflict of interest that inspires no faith. it's inappropriate. and we should ban the ability of members to hold any individual stocks. let them have broad diversified portfolios, mutual funds, if you will. that will be just fine.
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i want to note that sherrod brown and others, as well as myself, have been working on this issue. and i think sherrod brown will be bringing an amendment forward to have a debate on this very topic. >> great. i'm glad to hear that amendment is going to come up. look, i think the bill as written with no amendments is still absolutely worth doing. it is still a step-up. it is still an improvement and addresses something the president specifically asked to be addressed. but i commend you for wanting to tighten it even further. what do you think the prospects of that are, senator? >> i hope they're pretty good. in my town hall, i've been raising the idea, step forward or step backwards? shouldn't folks be banned from holding individual stocks? and the response has been virtually 100% from every audience i've been in front of. i think it's just a straightforward issue for americans just as the issue of being subject to insider trading. >> senator jeff merkley, congratulations on the vote tonight.

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